November 26, 2013

The owners of the Waterloo wind farm have welcomed the largest study ever conducted into noise output from the clean energy asset, saying the results were 'definitive proof' that the Waterloo wind farm fully complies with noise laws and does not produce noise at levels that is harmful to human health.

Following concern amongst a small number of local residents, the South Australian EPA studied perceived noise impacts arising from the Waterloo wind farm in April this year.

Over eight weeks, the independent environmental assessment agency continuously monitored noise and meteorological conditions at six locations within an approximate 10 kilometre radius of the wind farm, including the township of Waterloo.

Findings by the EPA detected only periodic incidents of very low levels of infrasound in the vicinity of the wind farm. All noise levels recorded were found to comply with the EPA Wind Farm Environmental Noise Guidelines.

Importantly, audio recordings did not correlate with reported health concerns and incidents of annoyance described in noise diaries kept by members of the community.

Other findings included:

  • There was no evidence linking the noise from the wind farm to adverse impacts on residents.
  • Infrasound levels from the wind farm were found to be below the internationally accepted threshold for perception.
  • Background noise resulting from the wind and other noise sources made a comparable or in some instances, greater contribution to infrasound levels than the wind farm.

General Manager of Waterloo wind farm, Steve Symons, said 'this report by the EPA confirms again – with conviction - that the Waterloo wind farm is fully compliant with the strict noise requirements established by the South Australian Government.

'To date, there have now been five scientific studies of noise output from Waterloo and all results indicate there is no evidence to support claims that the wind farm produces noise at levels high enough to exceed State legislated noise levels.

'We believe this very thorough and independent report by the EPA provides a clear and final conclusion on both audible and inaudible noise emissions from the Waterloo wind farm and look forward to returning our focus to generating clean energy'.

In October, the Waterloo wind farm recorded a major milestone, producing over 1000 gigawatt hours (GWh) of renewable energy – enough to power more than 200,000 homes.

EnergyAustralia is looking to construct another 123MW wind farm nearby to Waterloo. A major part of the approvals process for this facility will be governed by the South Australian EPA's Environment Protection Act.

EnergyAustralia also has approval to extend the Waterloo wind farm with a further six turbines adding an additional 18MW to its existing 111MW capacity.

Mr Symons said South Australia’s wind farm guidelines imposed are amongst the strictest in the world, with more stringent requirements than European and North American standards.

"EnergyAustralia and the owners of Waterloo wind farm support the view that current regulations for the assessment and regulation of environmental noise are entirely appropriate for the protection of local communities living in the vicinity of wind farms,' he said.